There will be stuff happening – a full programme of events – panels, guest talks, quiz, Sir Julius Vogel Awards, games, social events – you know the sort of thing.

For a timetable programme grid, have a look over here. Want a basic version of the grid for your mobile devicetry here (

The following is a list of sessions we are offering at unCONventional this year.

Regular Events

Opening Ceremony:   Meet the guests and see what you’re in for.

Opening Mixer:   Talk, mingle, see old friends, meet new ones. If time permits we will show some SJV nominated video.

Floating Market:   Buy! Sell! Trade! Flog off the stuff you don’t want anymore! Buy cool stuff. Any convention member can set up a table and sell their stuff.

Fan GOH:   Our fan guest, Lorain Clark tells of her time in fandom.

GOH:   Trudi Canavan will be giving a presentation.

Zombies and Vampire Ball/Masquerade/Cosplay:   Be the character you’ve always wanted to be! This is where you get the chance to dress up (or not). The Theme is Zombies and vampires but all costumes are there to be admired. You don’t have to “costume-up” – come as prey.

Quiz:   The chance to put your obscure SF/F knowledge to work (and learn stuff).

SFFANZ meeting & Con Pitches:   SFFANZ is the national body. Here is where policy is decided.

Cocktail Party/Sir Julius Vogel Awards   Drinks! Speeches! Awards! This is where the New Zealand Nationa SF/F/H awards are handed out.

Closing Ceremony:   Say goodbye to the guests and prepare for next year.

UnCONventional Events

Armageddon as Allegory:  SF responses to the traumas of history. Simon Petrie, Mary Victoria, Darusha Wehm, Beaulah Pragg, Phillip Simpson.

Astronomy:  Just what is going on in the night sky? And how are people looking at it. Keith Smith.

Bad Con Horror Stories:  Unfortunate accidents, unlikely incidents and other stories from those who have seen it all. Lyn McConchie, Ross Younger, Lorain Clark, Alan Robson

Best Con Guest Stories:  The flip side of the con horror stories – the really good stuff that has happened is discussed by the panel. Alan Robson, Lyn McConchie, Lynelle Howell, Lorain Clark

Board Gaming:  Board games for the masses. BYO or use what’s there. Each session will have a featured game.

Design your Dream Con:  A week-long, 10-stream alien fest on Venus? Why not? The panel discuss what would make the perfect convention. Andrew Ivamy, Lynelle Howell, Norman Cates, Robin Clarke

Eating Toads:  Live toads we have eaten – review books we would rather have not read. Book reviewing has its perils. Simon Litten, Alan Robson, John Toon.

Fan Entitlement:  Do writers/producers/actors/celebrities owe the fans, or vice versa? There have been a number of well publicised incidents in recent times. Are people demanding too much or do they have a right to expect things? What is going on? Simon Litten, John Toon, June Young

Fandom Introspective:  Just what is the future of fandom as we know it. Do we have any influence? This is navel gazing time. The panel will be starting off what we hope will be a group discussion, Lynelle Howell, Alan Parker, Andrew Ivamy, Mel Duncan

Filking:  Does what it says on the tin. Probably too loudly and out of tune. (for those who don’t know – people are singing SF/F themed lyrics to well known tunes).

Geography in SF:  Was Mt Doom always that big? The panel of authors discusses how their stories are shaped by the geography of their world or vice versa. May not even be physical geography. Russell Kirkpatrick, Trudi Canavan, Stephen Minchin, Mary Victoria

Get Real:  Bathrooms on the Enterprise, and other lack of realism in SF. Shortcuts are taken – the panel discusses the most glaring and perhaps some subtle ones you hadn’t thought of. Kevin McLean, Robin Clarke, Edwina Harvey, Stephen Litten

Getting published:  Moving your masterpiece to the masses. Writers and editors discuss the various routes to getting your work out there. Grant Stone, Darusha Wehm, Beulah Pragg, Simon Petrie, Stephen Minchin

Getting to know you Kaffeklatsche with Trudi Canavan:  Arriving early, why not have a cup of coffee out in the covered courtyard with our guest of honour Trudi Canavan while waiting for the con to start. Numbers may have to be limited or contact time managed so everybody gets a chance to talk to Trudi.

History of NZ SF/F/H Fandom:  This is the 33rd national convention – what were the other 32 like? People who were around for many of them will be sharing their experiences. Andrew Ivamy, Jacqui Smith, Keith Smith, Lynelle Howell

Instant Crossovers:  Have some fun assuming the persona of a character. Explore how that character interacts with another character from a different world – see instant crossover. Run by Alan Parker & Jacqui Smith.

LARP – UFO Conspiracy Game:  Mysterious happenings at a convention of ufologists – what will unfold. This short LARP does not have any prerequisites – just come along and enjoy the game. Latecomers welcomed but getting in early is better. Run by Mel Duncan

NZ Literary SF:  Kiwi SF and Fantasy takes on the world. Learn a bit about it – there is more than what you may expect. Simon Litten & June Young

NZSFA:  Space Flight Association – what’s happening in the real world? Matthew Pavletich

Overpopulation:  Soylent Green is People!!!! Fantasy, science fiction or reality? 7 billion people – how about 70. How has the genre treated our steadily growing numbers. It used to be a hot topic, now not so much. Why is that? Stepen Minchin, Darusha Wehm, Matt Morris, Russell Kirkpatrick

Plot Holes:  Gaping plot holes big enough to drive a starship through. Just why? The panel discuss where these come from and discuss some of their personal “favourites”. Russell Kirkpatrick, Matt Morris, Robin Clarke, Andrew Robins, Grant Stone

Promoting your Book:  How do you make your stuff sell? Writers and editors discuss what they do to get the word out there. Trudi Canavan, Helen Lowe, Stephen Minchin, Grace Bridges

Readings by Authors:  Hear how authors interpret their work. Also a great way to find out about a new (to you) author’s work. Readings will be in half hour time segments – just long enough for a short story or a chapter.

Author Readings Schedule
When Who
Saturday 9.00am Russell Kirkpatrick
Saturday 9.30am Beaulah Pragg
Saturday 10.00am Steve Wheeler
Saturday 10.30am Edwina Harvey
Sunday 3.00pm Darusha Wehm
Sunday 3.30pm Simon Petrie
Sunday 4.00pm Helen Lowe
Sunday 4.30pm Mary Victoria

RHPS Audience Participation:  Lets do the time warp again. Commentary on the Rocky Horror Picture Show is a great cinema and convention tradition. Here is our take on it. Daphne and Kelly promise the biggest and best show ever.

RPG Competition:  Out of Leftfield FM – a group of friends win a holiday to a mystery location from a small radio station for 2 months… what could possibly go wrong.
Role Playing Experience Necessary: None
Game System: Systemless. This game was written for the 2011 America’s cup, where it ran successfully, and has been improved since.

SFX Overload : Weta  So what is hot right now at Weta? Norman Cates has some very cool stuff to show you. No photography or other recording is allowed at this session – that is how cool it is.

Small Presses:  Small presses are at the forefront of the genre, this is where innovation happens. Meet some of the practitioners. Edwina Harvey, Grace Bridges, Stephen Minchin, Lee Murray

SpecFicNZ gathering  Speculative Fiction NZ are having a get together. SpecFicNZ is the national association for creators, writers and editors of speculative fiction in or from New Zealand. Have a look at – you may want to join them.

Time Travel:  The Grandfather Paradox and how to get around it. Just what are the implications of time travel. Terri Doyle, Beaulah Pragg, Lee Murray, Phillip Simpson, Mel Duncan

Vampires:  Still cool or done to death? Just what does the cold light of day reveal? Matt Morris, Beaulah Pragg, Celine Murray

Video Stream:  Take a break and watch a movie. There will be a number of video screenings throughout the convention. Some are commercial in nature, some are fan made. Also keep an eye out for screenings of items that have been nominated for SJV awards. As well as the times noted on the programme grid, keep an eye out for screenings during breaks. The notice board at reception will have information as to what is screening at particular times.

Women in Fantasy and SF  Damsels, love interests, butt-kickers. Just what is the place of Women in the genre and how has it changed. Trudi Canavan, Lyn McConchie, Helen Lowe, Mary Victoria

Worldbuilding:  The thing that differentiates SF & F from the rest of fiction writing is the extent to which worldbuilding becomes integral to the writing process. The panel of authors discuss how they go about it. Helen Lowe, Russell Kirkpatrick, Trudi Canavan, Simon Petrie

Writers’ Workshop: 
Our guest of honour Trudi Canavan will be running a short (2 hour) writers workshop during unCONventional called “That Got Your Attention”. How do you get the reader hooked from the first word and keep them reading until the last page without sacrificing the detail, grand scope and vision so loved in fantasy and science fiction? Trudi will show you ways to add tension to your writing, and work out the most relevant information to deliver about your characters and settings – and when – without slowing down the pace. Places on this workshop were strictly limited with full members of the convention allocated places on a first come-first served basis. This item is now full.

Your First Con:  How to survive the weekend on 2-minute noodles and 2 hours’ sleep. Except it isn’t really like that. A chance to get some inside knowledge and perhaps ask questions for your first time at this type of event. Ross Temple

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